Summary: Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, so live your life with confidence. Be confident that your faith is useful, your witness is true, your sins are gone, your loved ones are safe, and you are truly blessed as a believer in Jesus Christ.
Some time ago, a cartoon appeared in Leadership Journal that shows a couple leaving church and shaking hands with the pastor. The man says to the pastor, “You're in a rut, Reverend. Every time I come here, you preach about the Resurrection.” (Wendell Simons, The Best Cartoons from Leadership Journal, Volume 1, Broadman & Holman, 1999)
I guess that man comes to church only once a year, at Easter. His wife probably drags him there every year. And look at her: she’s totally embarrassed.
By the way, for those of you who are here for your annual Easter visit, welcome! We’re glad you’re here. This message is for you; but it’s also for those of us who come to church more often, because if we’re not careful, we can all develop a rather jaded attitude when it comes to the resurrection of Christ.
“Sure, Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead. I’ve heard it all before. So what? What does that have to do with the way I live my life in the 21st Century?” It’s an important question: just what IS the significance of the Resurrection? We preach about it every year, but what difference does it really make for us today?
1 Corinthians 15:12-14 But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. (NIV)
If Christ is not raised from the dead, then everything we say and believe as Christians is useless. It’s empty. It has no value or benefit to anyone. You see, the entire Christian faith stands or falls on the resurrection of Christ. So if Christ is not raised from the dead, then our faith is worthless.
But since Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, we can live today with confidence. We can go about our daily lives with assurance. We can live our lives not with a tentative fear, but with certainty and conviction. First, since Christ is raised from the dead…
BE CONFIDENT THAT YOUR FAITH IS USEFUL.
Be sure that everything you believe as a Christian is valuable and worthwhile.
In his book, Has Christianity Failed You, Ravi Zacharias talks about one of the greatest proofs for the reality of Christ’s resurrection: the changed lives of Christians.
This is what he says: “During the course of nearly 40 years, I have traveled to virtually every continent and seen or heard some of the most amazing testimonies of God's intervention in the most extreme circumstances. I have seen hardened criminals touched by the message of Jesus Christ and their hearts turned toward good in a way that no amount of rehabilitation could have accomplished. I have seen ardent followers of radical belief systems turned from being violent, brutal terrorists to becoming mild, tenderhearted followers of Jesus Christ. I have seen nations where the gospel, banned and silenced by governments, has nevertheless conquered the ethos and mind-set of an entire culture.”
For example, “In the middle of the twentieth century, after destroying all of the Christian seminary libraries in the country, Chairman Mao declared that… Christianity had been permanently removed from China, never to make a return. [But] on Easter Sunday in 2009, the leading English language newspaper in Hong Kong published a picture of Tiananmen Square on page 1, with Jesus replacing Chairman Mao's picture on the gigantic banner, and the words “Christ is Risen” below it.
Ravi Zacharias also talks about Matthew Parris, a British atheist who visited Malawi in 2008. After that visit, Parris wrote an article which he titled, “As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God.” This is what Parris said: “I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa… I used to avoid this truth… but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it.” (Ravi Zacharias, Has Christianity Failed You? Zondervan, 2010, pp. 105-107; www.PreachingToday.com)
You see, the Christian faith is useful, fueled by the conviction that Christ has indeed been raised from the dead.
And let me tell you: Christ can make a difference in your life if you let Him. Since He rose from the dead, He is alive today to change you from the inside out and to make you into all He created you to be. Just trust Him with your life. Then you too can prove, in your own experience, the life-transforming power of His resurrection. Since Christ is raised from the dead, be confident that your faith is useful. More than that…